MeasureUp’s Win2K practice exams are technically accurate, but do the questions focus on too much detail?

Win2K Exams

MeasureUp’s Win2K practice exams are technically accurate, but do the questions focus on too much detail?

After reviewing Windows 2000 books and study guides the past few issues, it’s great to be back reviewing Microsoft Certified Professional exam-preparation tools. This month, we’re taking a hard look at MeasureUp’s four Win2K core practice exams, which correspond to these Microsoft exams:

  • Win2K Professional (70-210)—Measures your ability to install, configure, and administer Microsoft’s flagship desktop operating system.
  • Win2K Server (70-215)—Tests your basic Win2K Professional knowledge and your ability to support Win2K Server, including fault-tolerant features and the network services included only with Server.
  • Win2K Network Administration (70-216)—Determines your ability to piece together a network with various back-end network services such as DNS, DHCP, WINS, RRAS, and RADIUS. This is the most difficult of the four core exams.
  • Win2K Active Directory Administration (70-217)—Assesses your knowledge of all Active Directory building blocks, including Domains, Organizational Units, Trees, Forests, and Sites.

MeasureUp Exam Interface

Product Information
MeasureUp Windows 2000 Core Practice Exams
MeasureUp, Inc.
Cost Per Test:
Unlimited Online Use, $89 (180 days);
CD-ROM, $99

MeasureUp’s Win2K exams offer four exam-taking modes. Let’s examine each:

  • Study Mode: Non-timed, this mode allows you to preview correct test answers and explanations. Study mode also provides relevant references to Microsoft Press study guides and various third-party books.
  • Certification Mode: This mode simulates the actual exam. You can’t stop the clock and must wait until you finish the test before seeing your score.
  • Custom Mode: Here, you can choose the objectives on which you’ll be tested, customize your screen view, specify when you want correct or incorrect answers to appear, select questions randomly, and turn the timer on and off at will.
  • Adaptive Mode: This mode simulates the knowledge-measuring capabilities of adaptive testing. For earlier Microsoft certification exams this may have been relevant, but for the Win2K track, it’s too soon for these to exist; Microsoft needs an immense number of test results to implement them.

I found MeasureUp’s exam interface easy to navigate. The question list button is a nice feature, taking you to a summary screen where you can browse test questions. Too bad the actual exams don’t have this feature. My only complaint concerning the interface is that the question text is too small to easily read and there’s no apparent way to change the font size.

Practice Exam Content

I found MeasureUp’s exam questions challenging, as each required careful examination of the answers presented. As with the actual exams, you have to be careful with the subtle differences in the answers, because many of the answers appear plausible. While you can use a process of elimination to narrow answer choice, you must still pay attention. To show you what I mean, let’s analyze a question from MeasureUp’s Win2K Professional practice exam.

Figure 1 shows a permissions-related problem—the technician can’t install hardware and can’t change a system option. From the answer list, we can eliminate the “Add/Remove Hardware” and “Device Manager” options as these are procedural; they don’t reflect a new security context that would provide the needed permissions. The remaining three answers provide a security context change and must be further explored.

Figure 1. In this MeasureUp question you have to understand default permissions. (Click image to view larger version.)

If you’re not sure what group, by default, has the necessary permissions to effect this change, at best, you have a 33.3 percent chance of guessing. Or do you? Maybe we can logically deduce the answer further. If you already know that the local Administrators group is all-powerful on the local computer and can be used to change system options, then this is a good choice. But what if Power Users has the required permissions to also make this change? You don’t want to do more than necessary. By making the technician’s account a member of Administrators you’re giving him more than just the capability to add hardware permissions. To further narrow our answer choice, we can eliminate making the technician a member of the Domain Admins group, as this would allow domain-wide permissions rather than those for a single computer. Now, your odds of picking the correct answer are 50-50. As it turns out, the local Administrator’s group is the correct choice.

Figure 2 seems like a fairly straightforward question, but does require prior knowledge to answer. The first step is to define the problem: The master boot record is corrupt. So, what does this mean? Well, it means your computer won’t boot, period. So how do you fix this? If you completely understand the Win2K boot process, you can quickly eliminate the answers that are obviously incorrect. If the Master Boot Record is corrupt, your computer will never get to the point in the boot process where you can select anything from a menu. If you know anything about how your computer system boots (POST), then you know that pressing the F8 key must be related to the operating system boot-up (which at the moment is defunct) and not your computer’s BIOS. We can eliminate the “Press F8” and “Select from the startup menu” answers right off the bat. Well, that leaves you with just one choice: “Start the computer from the Win2K Server CD-ROM and choose the repair option.” With a little knowledge you’ve figured out the answer, but do you understand why it’s the correct one?

Figure 2. This question requires knowledge of the computer boot process. (Click on image to view larger version.)

When you boot directly off the Win2K installation CD, you arrive at a screen that asks if you want to install or repair Win2K. If you choose “repair,” you can select to load the “Recovery Console”, an applet that looks like an old DOS command window. From the command prompt you can issue a number of commands, including FIXMBR.EXE, that will attempt to repair the master boot record. Notice how the exam question never included all this detail in the answer, but simply alluded to it based on the correct troubleshooting step. This is quite similar to what you’ll see on the actual Win2K exams, where rather than having detail spelled out, you must select the general step that will take you in the right direction.

My Verdict

Overall, I found MeasureUp’s technical content accurate, but many questions focus on too much detail. Memorizing 20-plus command line switches for a utility isn’t the way to study for Win2K exams. Think big picture! Also, MeasureUp includes too many questions related to the way Win2K Resource Kit utilities work. In the real world, these utilities are lifesavers, but in the testing center, knowing what they do won’t help you pass a Win2K exam. MeasureUp should exclude these Resource Kit questions altogether or include an option that lets you turn these questions “on” or “off.”

I’ll give it to you straight—you can’t use these practice exams as your primary study tool for the Win2K exams. Just because you can pass the practice tests doesn’t mean you can pass the real exams. Instead, use the practice exams as a way of reinforcing old concepts and learning new ones. And—this is key—as part of your exam preparation, I can’t stress enough the need to obtain hands-on experience with Win2K.

If you’ve already attempted any of the Win2K exams, you’re almost certainly aware of Microsoft’s shift—while the Windows NT 4.0 exams were relatively easy, the Win2K exams are extremely difficult. The Win2K test questions are purposely designed to trip you up, and if the questions don’t get you, exam fatigue will. Do everything possible to be prepared for these exams!

About the Author

James Carrion, MCM R2 Directory, MCITP, MCSE, MCT, CCNA, CISSP has worked as a computer consultant and technical instructor for the past 16 years. He’s the owner of and principal instructor for MountainView Systems, LLC, which specializes in accelerated Microsoft Certification training.

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